It is, as they say, good to talk. Conversations – good, Gospel centred conversations – ought to be at the heart of the life of the church.
It was my privilege last week to be with one of our Synod churches at the climax of an Inviting Forward process. Inviting Forward is our way in the Yorkshire Synod of helping churches review their life and plan for the future using Appreciative Inquiry principles. If you haven’t heard of Appreciative Inquiry, it uses conversations focused on the strengths of the church to build a vision and decide on practical steps forward.
I won’t name the church to spare their blushes but I thought the day we spent together was a huge success. By the end we had more than a flip-chart full of things that people are going to do with initials beside each. Many of these initials are not of the faithful few on whose shoulders the burden of running the church normally falls because one of the main achievements of the church was to include people at the event who are on the periphery of the church’s life.
So having the right people having the right conversations gave us a real buzz, and a strong sense that the Spirit of God was with us. This all came to a wonderful moment when, unprompted, one of the contributors from a younger generation thanked the ‘old timers’ there for the hard work they do, acknowledging how hard it is for them. In return, one of the Elders gave a heartfelt invitation to the younger ones to make the church their own.
I was struck by the significance of one generation getting into meaningful conversation with another. In the life of the church as in the wider world, we need to find every opportunity to open the channels of communication between the generations. Our future depends on these conversations.
Rev Jamie Kissack, Sheffield Team Minister